How To Plan And Execute A Successful CRM Data Migration [UPDATED 2023]
10 min read

How To Plan And Execute A Successful CRM Data Migration [UPDATED 2023]

How To Plan And Execute A Successful CRM Data Migration [UPDATED 2023]

Update from the author: we’ve updated the product information, and CRM data migration details to be current for 2023

Many people find their CRM software overcomplicated – full of unused bells and whistles. Or their CRM might be bloated with redundant or incomplete data and only sloppily updated. Often, this software has a lot more potential than how it's used.  In at least one-third of cases, the problems are great enough to cause CRM projects to fail.

Sound familiar?  Sometimes, you need to consider a new CRM.

Moving to another CRM product is a daunting task with a lot of moving parts, but with the right approach and a new beginning, you can finally start on a path of keeping your CRM up to date.  By solving the issue of bloat and disorganization, it company policies can be updated to prevent the same thing from happening again. Further, it can allow users to meet their CRM goals with a more fitting user experience.

In this particle, we'll go over what's included in CRM data migration, and we’ll review the specific steps in our CRM migration checklist below.  First, let’s take a look at what it means, and go into more detail about why you might want to migrate CRM systems.

What Does CRM Migration Mean?

Migrating to a new CRM is simply the process of taking all your current, relevant CRM data and importing it to a new platform. There are many reasons to do this, as we’ll discuss below, but the main motivation comes from the inefficiencies that arise when using a CRM that isn’t fit for your business purpose.

Once you’ve found a better alternative CRM that fits your needs, migrating data from the old to the new CRM can be a detailed process involving many steps. While CRM migration may sound like a simple matter of transferring your contact details onto a new software, it often involves a complex process that requires minimizing the chances of data loss with proper preparation and planning.

It also requires you to find the right CRM to migrate to. The resource-intensive nature of CRM migration means it’s not something that should be done often, so identifying the right software for your needs is important and one of the most significant steps.

However, once the migration is completed successfully, you and your company will realize clear benefit. Here’s a look at a few of them:

Why you Should Consider CRM Data Migration

As a summary of the benefits of your CRM data migration, consider all of the potential gains of using a CRM software that’s fit for purpose. These range from organizational efficiency to improvements to your bottom line.

crm data migration

Everything that a CRM can provide your company is cheaper and works better when you find the right product. We’ll go into some of the things to look for in the next section, but first, here are some of the benefits of CRM migration broken down into more detail.

Clean information - CRM is known for giving better access and organization to data, but even the best-kept software can become bloated and disorganized without regular maintenance. Research shows that 91% of CRM data is incomplete and around 70% is rendered stale or obsolete within a year.

By migrating your data to the new CRM, you’ll be given the chance to trim the fat, fill in the gaps, and generally form more future-proof data entry techniques that can reduce your need for maintenance and improve the cleanliness and accessibility of your data.

Improved function – This better organization will naturally allow for a better use of the CRM in its major purpose. The very fact that you’re considering the migration suggests that the functionality of your current software isn’t up to standard. So, the inherent improvements in a better-fit product, combined with the more organized data you will be migrating into it, should bring you significant advantages to its function as a contact management software.

More secure – The migration process will also illuminate weak points in your data security. By setting up a new CRM with your current data, it’s a simple matter to restrict users from certain information and ensure everyone accessing it has the appropriate authorization.

Better service – Naturally, these improvements lead to a higher customer satisfaction rating, better retention rates, and more opportunities for upselling. The right CRM software can provide boosts in all these metrics.

ROI – Ultimately, a better tool allows you to do a better job, and the better job brings you a greater ROI. In this case, the ROI is improved by more efficient use of customer or contact data, and also by the money saving that you can benefit from when you’re not paying for unnecessary, redundant features on your CRM software.
For personal CRM users, this ROI isn’t as much financial as it is social. Forming these better connections and creating a better experience for your contacts goes a long way to forging lasting relationships.

As you can see, many of the benefits of migration come from the benefits of using the right-fitting CRM software, so that’s one of the key elements of the process as a whole. Other perks are in the reordering of data that naturally needs to occur when migrating, and all of the efficiency and security that comes with that.

So, what’s the process like? There is a series of steps to follow when migrating your data, which we are going to list in the CRM Migration checklist below.

The CRM Migration Checklist

This list should be a simple roadmap through your CRM data migration, taking you from decision-making through to implementation and into making sure everything was done well. Here is our 8-step CRM migration checklist to help you get started.

1. Commit to the process

Common mistakes when switching to new CRM software are underestimating the financial and human resources needed. There are two points to note here:

· First, migrating every last piece of your data will be particularly costly,

· And second, you are unlikely to need all of the data; perhaps not even most of it.

Identifying the optimal amount of data you need to migrate is the first step to committing to the process as a whole. From there, you’ll be able to set a realistic budget for both time and money. As part of the commitment process, consider answering the following questions:

· What can the new CRM do for your efficiency?

· What operational processes do you want to add to it?

· Who is going to be using it?

· What will it need to be able to integrate with?

· How much are you willing to spend?

This should give you a good starting point for what to look for.

Remember, the amount of data you’re migrating is going to determine how expensive the process is, and in many cases, this cost will exceed the value of the CRM itself, so in the process of committing resources, make sure that your calculations are thorough.

crm migration checklist

Then, it’s a matter of getting everyone to agree with you.

2. Inform Stakeholders

Your successful migration will be a collaborative effort, so it’s important that everyone’s expectations are aligned. The process itself can even bring benefits to the reduction of silos between teams, so treat it as a teambuilding exercise, and get people involved.

This step is most important for companies at scale, and may not be so relevant to smaller startups or networking individuals looking for a new personal CRM, but if you’re dealing with customer data and you have sales teams, it’s a good idea to get them involved in the process.

3. Settle on a new CRM

Around this time, you’ll hopefully have honed in on the strongest option for your CRM, or at least have a shortlist of things to look out for. Your needs will determine the best option for you, and your old CRM software should illuminate the things you don’t need. Here are some things to consider in a destination software:

· Ease of use – this is the primary factor that motivates most people to switch to a new CRM. A simple interface goes a long way, so before you focus all your attention on its features, make sure it’s nice and easy to use.

· Cloud or local hosting – Do you have the teams to maintain your own software or would you prefer to have it hosted remotely? Online CRM is a lot lighter in terms of responsibility but does require a continuous connection to the internet to access it. On the other hand, integration may be a lot easier with software hosted on-site, but it will also be costly and requires an IT team to manage it.

Consider these options in the context of the long-term future, too; not just your immediate needs – or you may end up going through this whole process again in a couple of years! If you’re simply running it as a personal CRM, it’s likely you won’t need on-site hosting.

· Pick the functions you really need – You’re likely migrating because of an over-engineered piece of kit that has much more functionality than you really want, so don’t make that mistake a second time! Set your standards and your expectations, whether they’re basic or advanced, and stick to them. Again, remember the needs of your company as it grows.

This is where customization comes in handy. Consider both functionality and the number of users who will be involved. If you’re running a startup, this functionality may change as it scales. If you’re looking for an improvement to your current personal CRM, your needs may not change significantly over time.

· Integration– This will come off the back of knowing exactly what you’re looking for in your new CRM. This tool will be used for a specific purpose, so its integrations need to be included in the decision-making. Will it allow imports from the platforms you most need? And does your current CRM allow exports in the way that is useful to import?

For a personal CRM, social media integration is really handy, so be sure to look into which of these it can work with.

· Specificity– What level of specificity do you need? Some CRM software is designed for a wide range of applications, while others are more niche. Try to see whom your target CRM vendor has worked with in the past and see if they match your needs.

· Security– Again these needs will be determined by what you’re using it for. However, a base level of data protection should be demanded from any CRM software.

These are some of the considerations you’ll need to take into account when deciding on a platform.

For more personal usecases, where you're managing your own network, it would make sense to consider a personal CRM. For these purposes, take a look at Dex. Dex acts similarly to customer relationship management software but is tailored for personal contacts.

With Dex, you can consolidate all your contacts into one user-friendly platform, remember where you left off in the conversation, and set reminders to reach out and keep the relationships warm.

Once you’ve decided where you’re taking your data, you’ll need to organize it for transfer.

4. Sort through your data

As we mentioned, within a year, it’s common for up to 70% of CRM data to be out of date. There are plenty of other issues to sift through in your data too, such as spelling errors, duplicates, and missing information.

These knowledge gaps can be addressed before the import, and the success of the migration depends heavily on this. Now is the time to cut out all the redundant data, identify all source data and understand its current state.

In preparing for migration, decide on whether you’re going to be partitioning contacts, and if so, how. You’ll be working towards identifying which content is relevant to your new CRM and at the same time, learning more about how to change your data entry in the future, to make it more efficient.

5. Create a data map

The next step is to form a map of where your data will be going. Organize what you’ve got into groups, and make sure they’re packaged with their history. If this is a customer, include all the data of their interactions with your company. If it’s a friend or acquaintance, make sure to include the social history of where you found them, how your interactions have gone so far, and where you’re currently at in the conversation.

These data need to be lifted intact from one software to the next, so it’s useful to determine the data groups you need beforehand. This stage can also be used to deviser the means of transfer, whether you will be using automation or manual means.

6. Back up!

Remember, things can and will go missing in this process. Devise a backup strategy to compensate for the data loss you should expect to see. This is more relevant the more people are involved in the transfer, but even if it’s you alone, there’s a high probability of making at least some small mistakes.

Therefore, backup all databases and reports, any templates and any user files before going ahead.

7. Import and validate

If you’ve done everything smoothly up to this point and you’re eager to go ahead, there are still two major pitfalls you’re at risk of falling into, so beware! The first mistake you may make is sending over all the data at once. The second is not validating the migrated data before going further.

If you’re on a tight deadline, it may be tempting to click “GO” and leave it running overnight. But without a trial run, this could cause a lot more trouble than it’s worth. Even if you’re not in a hurry, it’s safer to use sample data for the first test run; it could save you many hours of undoing buggy work.

Once you’ve ensured that the migration is working as you intended, it’s time to go ahead. From there, all that’s left is making sure you’ve got everything and securely removing the old data.

8. Check and delete

Finalizing your checks and purging the old system is a necessary part of your data security process, but it’s also a final opportunity to streamline your CRM practices. Now that you’ve got your new, clean data, set down some better policies to keep the quality standards high as new data come in.

From there, you should have a newly-adopted, streamlined, and efficient CRM that better fits your needs.


CRM software is growing is crucial for relationship management for both businesses, individuals, and everyone in-between.  Many products offer functionality and complexity that appeals to a wide array of users. However, using general-purpose CRM can lead to significant redundancies or an overcomplicated solution that's hard to keep up-to-date.

In these cases, it may be a good idea to migrate to a CRM that is better suited to your specific needs. This type of successful CRM migration comes with numerous benefits, including  data integrity, security, and completeness.  Importantly, CRM migration can also lead to a significant reduction in costs. However, migrating to a new CRM is a detailed, cumbersome process, and not to be done without adequate preparation or planning.

By following this CRM migration checklist, you should find it relatively straightforward to prepare for, implement and validate an effective CRM data migration.  Whether for business or personal needs, a better CRM will provide you with immediate benefits that will make the time, money, and effort you spent worthwhile.